In Con Air, Cameron Poe (Nicholas Cage) is a former US Ranger who always finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Recently released from prison for man-slaughter committed in self-defence, he must hitch a ride on ‘Con Air’ – a passenger plane filled with some of the country’s meanest criminals including Cyrus the Virus (Ving Rhames), Diamond Dog (Ving Rhames) and Garland Greene (Steve Buscemi) who are en-route to a new maximum-security prison.
Problem this time, is that Cyrus has been planning this vacation for some time.
Honorably discharged Army Ranger Cameron Poe (Nicolas Cage) is given a ten-year prison sentence on charges for using excessive force on a drunk man who attempted to attack his pregnant wife Tricia (Monica Potter), leading to killing the man.
Finally Poe is paroled eight years later, and is to be released after being flown to Alabama on the Jailbird, a C-123K transport prison aircraft.
Along with Poe are several other prisoners including his diabetic cellmate and friend Mike “Baby-O” O’Dell (Mykelti Williamson), who is being transferred (but not yet paroled) with Poe.
The transfer is being overseen by U.S. Marshal Vince Larkin (John Cusack), as the transfer includes notorious criminal mastermind Cyrus “Cyrus The Virus” Grissom (John Malkovich), gangster and Black Guerrilla member Nathan “Diamond Dog” Jones (Ving Rhames), serial rapist John “Johnny 23” Baca (Danny Trejo), and mass murderer William “Billy Bedlam” Bedford (Nick Chinlund) for their transfer to a new Supermax prison.
Larkin is approached at the last minute by DEA agents Duncan Malloy (Colm Meaney) and Willie Sims (Jose Zuniga), the latter asking for Sims to be brought aboard undercover as a prisoner so that he can extract more information from drug kingpin Francisco Cindino (Jesse Borrego), a prisoner that is to be picked up at Carson City, Nevada en route. Larkin agrees, unaware that Malloy has hidden a gun on Sims’ body.
As the Jailbird takes off, another prisoner Joe “Pinball” Parker (Dave Chappelle) incites a riot, allowing him to set free Diamond Dog and Grissom. Grissom quickly rushes to the cockpit, killing the first officer and forcing the captain to continue to fly the aircraft.
Grissom then announces the prisoners’ takeover of the Jailbird and takes the prison guards hostage.